I try to go to one music festival a year, I mean other than Savannah Stopover, Revival Fest, Graveface Fest, No Control Fest, Bragg Jam, The Jam Room Festival and….holy crap, I go to a lot of festivals. I guess what I really mean is that I try to go to one destination music festival a year and this year mulled over Riot Fest (Chicago or Denver), Fun Fun Fun Fest (Austin), and Hopscotch Festival (Raleigh). I even did the math for All Tomorrow’s Parties Iceland (seriously). Uhh, no. In the end, though, due to economics, time constraints, and availability of partners in crime, I decided to attend The FEST, a, ummmmm, festival in Gainesville, FL.
Though it was my first time attending The FEST, it most certainly was not its first go around. In its 13th year, this is not a festival struggling to find its identity, audience or niche. The event began as a showcase for No Idea Records and has grown into a celebration of punk rock and its myriad sub-genres. The FEST doesn’t book the same bands that every other festival in the country is trying to book, doesn’t seem affected by trends and is comfortable sticking with what it knows — punk, pop punk, emo, post punk, noise punk, you get the idea. It featured 365 (!!!!!) bands playing in 19 venues over 3 days.
Here are my pictures and thoughts from the first day. In a nutshell, though, if you like music in the vein of Against Me!, Pabst Blue Ribbon beer ($3 tallboys all weekend, every venue), standing in line and meeting new, like-minded people, The FEST is totally the festival for you. I had a blast.
After driving the easy 4-ish hours to Gainesville, we arrived at registration to find a LINE. A LINE that started in the parking lot, wound through the parking garage, through more parking lot, along a sidewalk, up stairs and finally through the FEST flea market to the registration tables. A 3 hours and 15 minutes LINE that actually didn’t seem that bad. There were at least 3 bars set up in line, a beer cart in case you weren’t in front of one of the bars, people in line were super friendly and patient and the flea market was really cool. I seriously think we got in line at its very longest and it wasn’t nearly as bad as it sounds. Like I said, they’ve done this before.
After navigating the line, we had to try to navigate the schedule. I had done my research, had a tenative schedule, but it quickly became obvious that it was pointless. Just look at that schedule and it’s continued on the back. The FEST app worked pretty well, giving you a heads up as to what was playing currently and in an hour, and could be sorted by venue, time or the schedule you made. Still, just overwhelming.
World’s Scariest Police Chases is up there somewhere, I promise.
There were cover sets all weekend, both acoustic and electric. I’ve never really encountered this at a festival before, but it was really, really cool. Pic is Ex-Breathers during their Superchunk cover set.
FEST 13 featured its first outdoor venue, Gainesville liquor laws were changed to allow Bo Diddley Park to be fenced off for the event, with a capacity of 6,000. We caught Chixdiggit and The Menzingers.
Lines to get into venues made jumping from set to set impossible, so we decided to wait to get into the Wooly for Screaming Females and caught the end of Benny The Jet Rodriquez‘s set while staking out our spot.
Screaming Females was definitely the set of the night for me. Marissa Paternoster is TOTALLY badass on guitar.
The set closed with Marissa coaxing her hair into a devil lock and belting out a cover of the Misfit’s “Where Eagles Dare”. It was Halloween, after all.
After a blissful and kinda drunken late night Steak’N’Shake experience, I fell asleep really quickly. I can’t imagine why.